Good risk management, culture and leadership essential to prevent fatalities

Fiona’s blog: Latest fatalities a sad reminder we still have work to do

It is very sad to hear about the two forestry workers killed earlier this month. My heart goes out to the families and friends of these workers, and their crewmates.

Their deaths take the number of fatalities in forestry this year to four. This toll is a reminder that, despite the improvements made in the last four years, we’ve still got a long way to go to achieve our goal of making forestry a safe, professional industry.

To date, a lot of the effort has gone into improving risk management. A focus on critical risks and ensuring effective controls are in place is essential in forestry. But risk management is not just about what happens on site. Forest owners and managers also need to show leadership by making sure they’re managing the risks they have control over. This includes things like ensuring good harvest planning, road access, skid site design and that commercial terms in contracts don’t undermine good health and safety.

It is also essential to invest in your people, so they have the skills needed to lead your teams and listen to the people doing the job – to find out what frustrates them and makes the job difficult.

This helps create a good workplace culture – which experience tells us is also essential for good health and safety. It ensures there is a good working relationship, and good communication, within crews and between contractors and forest owners/managers. If the culture’s not right, if there is no trust, the risk management system won’t be put into practice properly.

The importance of building good working relationships and a good work culture were discussed at our national roadshow in June and July with wellbeing expert Dr Tom Mulholland. These events focused on helping people improve their physical and mental wellbeing, so they’re more resilient at work. Dr Tom’s ‘TWiG’ technique for dealing with anger and frustration went down particularly well with the audiences. See more about this technique below.

There will be an opportunity to learn more about the TWiG technique from Dr Tom at free workshops we are running in Rotorua on August 9 as part of the Forest Industry Conference.

I would challenge everyone working in forestry to think about how they can show leadership by working to improve their workplace culture, so their organisation’s risk management can be more effective. If you’ve got stories about how you are already doing this, please tell us and we’ll share them on Safetree.

See information from WorkSafe for accident victims and their families

Latest workplace fatalities

Below is initial information from WorkSafe about the two fatalities this month. WorkSafe has agreed to provide Safetree with this information to help keep the industry informed. More information will be provided as WorkSafe’s investigations progress.

Date: 16 July 2018
Location: Near Trass Valley Road, Wai-iti, Nelson
Initial information: A worker was airlifted from the scene with serious leg injuries. He subsequently died.

Date: 9 July 2018
Location: Near Pukehou Rd, Bulls, Rangitiki
Initial information: The incident involved multiple victims. A log fell on a car some 600m from the road near a logging area behind a farm. One person was killed and another was left in a critical condition.

TWiG before you snap – dealing with anger and frustration

Dr Tom has come up with a simple technique to help people deal with anger and frustration. It helps people develop a new, healthier, way to think about problems – at work and at home. The technique is called TWiG, after the three steps it involves.

See Dr Tom describe the TWiG technique

Safetree workshops on Culture, Wellbeing, Learning – 9 August, Rotorua

Everyone in forestry is invited to these three free workshops being held as part of the Forest Industry Conference. They cover:

  • Wellbeing and health – with Dr Tom Mulholland
  • Growing our Safety Culture – with safety culture expert Dr Hillary Bennett
  • Learning Reviews, a new approach to incident investigations – with Human Factors scientist Brionny Hooper, from Scion.

Find out more about these events

RSVP to (including name of workshop you will attend and how many attendees)

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